The French Fry Diet for Rapid Weight and Fat Loss

I'm betting that title gets some hit action

OK, for those popping in from wherever, you've been fooled—but only a tiny bit, as you'll see. Sorry, but I'm a hit whore at base—and I do mean base. You see, french fries as you know them are almost uniformly awful, now. Back when they—including McDonald's—used to deep fry them in beef tallow (rendered beef fat) they were not only the most awesome tasting fries ever, but the healthiest too. That's because beef fat is a natural fat...duh.

But no, this relates to a bit of a weight / fat loss self experiment involving potatoes. See, some of us older folk have no problem getting most of the blubber off on an ad libitum Paleo diet. It's that last 15-25 pounds that's a bitch and as I just blogged about, the so-called potato diet is really showing promise. So as with many things, I'm open to giving it a try. Here was the main post on the subject: The Latest Diet & Exercise Hacking Towards a Goal.

The key is to use something that fills and satiates you, that you have a hard time eating enough of to maintain body weight and is super low in fat, such that your lean tissue cells will be going to your fat cells to cash in regularly (they need fat). And, the amino acid profile is of sufficient quality to promote lean muscle retention in the face of a caloric deficit. See, all neat & tidy.

But the problem is palatability. Boiled potatoes with salt and maybe a dash of olive oil or smidgen of butter day in, day out? Nah. That post linked above is one solution, in the form of a soup. Yesterday I tried to go it the conventional way. I peeled and cubed a potato, tossed it in the nuker, then tossed it in some ketchup (0 fat) & salt. First, the wafting smell of vinegar was enough to kill my appetite right off. Second, just not very tasty, though I got it down and wasn't hungry later.

So here's another idea. As a general rule of thumb, fat is fat in terms of grams. So whether you drizzle a tsp per potato of olive oil, mash with a tsp of butter, or otherwise use a tsp of fat per medium sized potato, no difference.

Can you make french fries with only a tsp of fat per medium potato? Indeed, you can.

IMG 1305
 

There you go. Two medium peeled potatoes. Two teaspoons of coconut oil in the wok. Now to slice them up and deep fry them....

IMG 1306
 

Fist, slice them halfway down the middle. Then do 3-4 slices top down one way, turn 90 degrees and do 3-4 slices top down the other way.

IMG 1308
 

Put the wok on low heat to melt the coconut oil, then toss your steak fries. OK, no, you're not going to deep fry them; you're going to coat them in that oil while your oven gets up to 400F. Then you place them on a cookie sheet, spread them around evenly, and use a rubber spatula to get out all the fat that has coated the wok. You're a fat miser, now.

The reason you cut them into steak fries is that to cook them nicely you need to toss them a couple of times during the cooking and thin ones will fall all apart. This takes about 30 minutes. At the 12-15 minute mark, toss them. At the 23-25 minute mark, toss them again and kick up the oven to 450. Watch through the glass until done.

IMG 1310
 

Let them rest on the cookie sheet out of the oven for 2-3 minutes, if you can resist.

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Some ketchup and a quite generous sprinkling of sea salt. I prefer eating some with the ketchup, some plain but scooping up loose salt on the plate. 2 1/2 hours ago, 350 calories of potato, 75 calories of fat, total 425 calories (perhaps 440 with the ketchup), first meal of the day at noon, and I'm still fine & dandy.

I want to reiterate: given the experimental protocol, this is not even cheating. Oh, BTW, they were wonderful. Hand over fist eating. Still, I doubt I could do this 3 times per day.

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Comments

  1. You will love this one…

    Shred some potatoes, put a big handful in your non-stick waffle maker (the one you hid away when you went paleo), cook for 8-10 minutes or so.

    Perfect hashbrowns made with zero fat!

    Cover with salt and vinegar.

    I could eat these all day.

  2. Those look awesome! Another first time poster, long time lurker. Your potato experiment is great! I can’t wait to try this out. Just curious if the ketchup is homemade or bought. I’ve found a few recipes for it online but all have a little sweetener added.

    • Ketchup is Trader Joe’s organic. Has like only the basic ingredients: tomato, vinegar, salt, sugar (no HFCS). Trader Joe’s is one company I trust to deliver what they say they are delivering. And you know what? If you email them to ask any specifics, you’ll get an answer back. I think they are intent upon building trust.

  3. Rhys Morgan says:

    So you don’t think that little bit of fat will sabotage the potato diet’s results? It seems like the majority of people over on Mark’s Daily Apple are saying it needs to be ZERO fat and purely potatoes. I think this sucks so I used less than a tsp. of olive oil and ate an onion with my potatoes for lunch.

    I feel like all carb-refeed science says that >50grams of fat is all that is really necessary. I wonder if the same applies here with the PPD, or if these are two very different concepts?

    • Rhys Morgan says:

      Whoops, meant to say <50grams of fat*

    • Rhys

      No absolutely not. Total BS. At 1 tsp per potato of fat, you’re in minuscule territory and your body needs way more than that. Will going zero increase the rate of fat loss? Sure, to the tune of about 1 tsp per potato per day. Go weigh a tsp of fat. Weight 6 tsps of fat, assuming you can get down 6 potatoes.

      My aim is to strike a balance where the fat loss is still substantial but the diet not too unpleasant.

      What’s funny is that there is ALREADY a new thread on MDA forum, as well as PaleoHacks and the general tone is ridicule, even though there is absolutely no difference between this preparation and a tsp of olive oil on a potato as some do.

      • Rhys Morgan says:

        BTW Richard, are you counting calories/tracking intake with this diet or just eating til full and hoping you’re getting enough calories? I’m not sure if I should be trying to hit a daily goal so I don’t kill muscle mass, or if I should just leave it up to chance/satiety for optimal results.

      • I’m napkining it at this point. After two days, I know damn well the calories are under 2000 and that’s all I care about.

  4. Have you tried them raw? I used to enjoy a (salted) slice or two of raw potato when mom was making mashed potatoes. Evidently it’s generally safe (http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2009/aug/05/1f5focusm195324-pros-and-cons-munching-raw-potatoe/) , but there’s some things to look out for. What if you got them down to about shoestring size and then tossed them in a vinaigrette? Unless you hate all vinegar…

    Fortunately (?) I’m still several pounds away from that last 15-25, so I’m gonna keep on eating my fatty fatness.

    • Joshua:

      No, I don’t care for raw and don’t care for a potato with crunch. HOWEVER, the French have a solution. Celeriac, or celery root. You shred it just like you do cabbage for cole slaw, and then dress it with whatever. Just salt & vinegar might be workable.

  5. So just to be sure I am clear about what you are doing:

    Five days a week you are eating nothing but liver tabs and potatoes with minimal fat?

    • BigRob:

      Yes. Though I haven’t done a fast yet—woke up very hungry this morning, unusual for me—so we’ll see if that part is warranter or needed. I also add, spices and such to the potatoes. Just got some hot sauce, some marinara and salsa today. All zero fat.

  6. Im wondering if the fact that coconut oil is treated more like a carb then a fat in the body might factor in to this? Ray Peat has some interesting ideas on coconut oil, mainly as a metabolic booster. I will uave to go home a read up tonight.

    That would make it very interesting if coconut oil acts as a carb and a metabolic booster. You couls use much more of it with actually better results!

  7. Also another tasty dish is sautéing potatoes in Braggs with garlic and onion. Adding in kale or spinich also helps.

  8. Occasionally you can find some good ketchups out here in Amish country that are legit, old school ketchups. I was that fat kid that put ketchup on everything. As soon as I saw this post, it was ketchup with potatos, a la Nikoley and 8 eggs!!! Holy shit, I think it’s the ketchup that I like most.

  9. Paleophil says:

    Richard, does low-slow-cooked Irish stew appeal to you at all? You could include as little or as much meat/fat/veggies/spices to the potatoes as you want.

    • While not in particular familiar with the makings of Irish stew, I’ve had my fare share of shepherd’s pie in pubs over the many years—a dish I adore.

      Link to a fav recipe? I’l make it and chow down on a refeed day soon.

      • Paleophil says:

        Irish stew (stobhach Gaelach) is very simple and is basically just common Irish foods cooked in a stew (every old culture has its own version). It’s essentially whatever you have on hand for meat, bones, roots/tubers and veg cooked low and slow (such as in a crockpot or a heavy pot on the stove) for 3-4 hours or more, depending on how low the temperature you cook it at is and and how you prefer it. I prefer to use the “warm” setting of my crockpot and let it cook overnight or longer and I like to let the potatoes get semi-mushy, which thickens the stew, though nowadays I usually forego the potatoes since discovering that my health fares better when I minimize potatoes, unfortunately. The manufacturer and US government warn against using the warm setting to cook at, due to fear of pathogenic bacteria, which I’m not concerned about and have never had a problem with going on several years now.

        The original Irish Stew ingredients back around the seventh century BC were reportedly goat neck, shanks and other trimmings plus roots like turnips, parsnips or carrots, and possibly barley (which is not essential and which I leave out, being gluten intolerant and mostly Paleo/Primal). Later sheep became more common so that mutton (old sheep) replaced goat. Much later the British introduced Inca potatoes to Ireland and potatoes became the main root/tuber used. Some pubs started using the ever-handy Guiness stout (presumably any good porter could be used) instead of barley.

        Here’s a recipe for Irish stew from 1874: “Take from two or three pounds of chops from the best end of a neck of mutton, and pare away nearly all the fat, for an Irish Stew should not be greasy. If liked a portion of the breast may be cut into squares and used, but a neck of mutton is the best joint for the purpose. Take as many potatoes as amount after peeling to twice the weight of the meat. Slice them, and slice also eight large onions. Put a layer of mixed potatoes and onions at the bottom of a stewpan. Place the meat on this and season it plentifully with pepper and slightly with salt. Pack the ingredients closely, and cover the meat with another layer of potato and onion. Pour in as much water or stock as will moisten the topmost layer, cover the stewpan tightly, and let its contents simmer gently for three hours. Be careful not to remove the lid, as this will let out the flavour.” (http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodireland.html.) Modify it as you wish, it’s hard to go wrong with stew.

        I don’t bother to pare away fat and actually tend to grease the bottom of the crockpot a bit with lard, bacon fat, tallow or butter, to make sure that nothing sticks to it and because I like animal fat. You don’t have to be exact on the quantities. The Irish traditionally just used whatever they had and likely didn’t care much about proportions. Sometimes when folks gathered they each contributed something to the pot (originally a cauldron over a fire).

      • Yea, Paleophil, thanks for all that. During an interlude yesterday I googled around and mostly cam up with most of that. in your version, pretty much what I do a lot. I just toss a lot of stuff and either beef stock, chicken stock or both.

        on the fat issue, no, I do not care for floating fat or a strong taste of it. But, I don’t trim either. If it’s a little, fine. If a lot, I simply strain everything through mesh and then put the liquid into a fat separator.

      • Paleophil says:

        Suit yourself my brother and god luv ya (from a fellow atheist). You’ve got the gist of the stew business. It predates books and writing, so it’s more about tossing stuff in than getting recipes precisely correct. When people start talking about “recipes” and so many ounces and minutes of this or that, I usually start losing interest.

        It’s fascinating that the dislike/fear of *cooked* fat actually goes back over 100 years. I think it’s because fat is particularly sensitive to heat, more so than protein or fiber, but I don’t worry a lot about it, as I eat mostly raw anyways and cook at extraordinarily low temps, but I do acknowledge that the historical precedent exists and it’s probably somewhat justified.

      • For me it depends. Pork fat I generally love. Beef fat it depends. Lamb fat, way depends. Mutton? No way. Get it out of here.

      • Paleophil says:

        I’ve never seen mutton for sale anywhere anyway. Beef shanks, stew beef, ham hocks, fish bones or other scraps of meat, bone, and connective tissue will work too. And the fat content can vary from very low (cleaned bones plus roots/tubers and veg, for example) to very high. Whatever works for you. Stew is very democratic. :) Some markets will even give away free bones and scraps.

      • I had mutton in France and previously, from a guy with a sheep ranch East of Reno growing up.

        In retrospect, stewing it and skimming the fat would have been ideal.

  10. Sweet, keep the potato recipes coming!

  11. aminoKing says:

    Rich, what have you got against potato skins? If it was up to me I’d fry up the skins and feed the rest of the potato to the pigs.

  12. aminoKing says:

    …before I forget too, one amino acid that potatoes aren’t too strong on is methionine. Eggs (whites>yolks) have plenty methionine though if you want to supplement.

  13. I sometimes get food-blinders on – and I have been doing the sweet potatoes in the microwave/pan cooking them for so long, I forgot oven roasting was a ‘thing’!

    Great reminder of how to do it right before Thanksgiving, thanks for it! =)

  14. Richard,

    Question, recipe and a funny….

    Would it be ok to eat 1 teaspoon of honey per 3-4 potatoes? Per your “My aim is to strike a balance where the fat loss is still substantial but the diet not too unpleasant.” My gorgeous bride feels the same way as you do and she wants to give it a go.

    From my child hood growing up in Amsterdam, my favorite potato dish….( instead of Chinese food, little Dutch boys like me grew up around Indonesian food, my friends grandma who was born in Jakarta always made it)
    3-4 potatoes
    3 scallions
    1 red chilicili pepper
    1 tablespoon coconut oil
    2 tablespoons soy/tamari
    1 teaspoon honey
    Salt to taste

    Slices in cubes or like your fries.
    Give them a quick boil in water. ( you can also not boil and just fry the potatoes)
    In the coconut oil sauté your cubes or fries, add sliced scallions.
    Combine soy and honey and add to pan.
    Last add thinly sliced red chilies with or without some seeds per your own spicy preference. Salt to taste.
    Please try.. You will be pleasantly blown away :-)

    HA! I always knew that even though you put on a good front a while back….you never really liked sweet potatoes,you fucker :-)

    Thanks for once again pointing me to different reading and new ideas and concepts.

    Marc

  15. Richard, there’s a restaurant here in Los Angeles called Plan Check that does their French Fries in beef tallow. I tried them out a few weeks ago, seeing as it’s been decades (probably) since I’ve had fries in tallow, and back then, I didn’t know much of anything about the oil. They were crisp and delicious, although to be fair, even most fries done in vegetable oils taste pretty good. The biggest thing I noticed was the smell. They smelled absolutely marvelous, a slight beefy scent that made them that much better! They were the sort of fries that begged to called “A Gustatory Delight!” or some other hoity-toity sounding phrase. I’ve noticed that a lot restaurants that deep fry the standard way have a slightly rancid smell in the air (probably because the oil they’re using is rancid). It’s such a shame that we traded away a great tasting food simply to make it way unhealthy.

  16. I like potatoes in goose fat, doesn’t take much too coat and cook them. Through looking paleo type whol food recipes food I think goose fat is good quality fat. I try to keep a little bottle on standby in the fridge, I often forget its there until I want to do some potatoes. We have lard here in the UK but I am never sure if it is safe from bleaching, it looks so white that it makes me wonder whether some chemical process has been added?

  17. gosh that sentence came out wrong – looking for traditional food recipes …

  18. Is those free-range potato? Or do it matter what variety of potato? Why you no eat skin, is danger in potato hide?

    • I just prefer no skin for most applications. I like potato skins with stuff in them (I have a couple of recipe posts on the blog on that score). I also like fried potato skins, smashed flat, in butter. Salt is added to the white potatoes, cinnamon to the sweets.

    • Imo the free-range potatoes are a scam, I’ve tried both the free-range ones and the ones that are raised indoors in pens and there was no discernible difference in flavor or texture.

      • Difference is no just about YOU Rob! It about quality of life for potato as it live in captivity until it killed for you consumptions.

  19. Somewhere I read recently you should peel the skin of potatoes as the toxins are all in the skin and especially sweet potato, need to cut out any little dark spots as that’s where the toxins build up? I have always loved well baked potato skins, so Richard do you know the answer to that, I am not sure if I read it on Gnolls.org?

    • I’m not totally sure. I know you’re definitely supposed to toss any potato that’s sprouted and cut out any green area on skin as there’s some neuro toxin or something. Also, I think the buds of a potato plant are deadly poisonous. Been a while since I read anything on this.

    • As the concentration of solanine is monitored in the US, generally the potatoes you find here are very safe. It takes about 400mg of solanine to kill you, tho 25mg is the level that starts causing nausea. Concentrations run between 2-15mg/100g in most cultivars. Some varieties are worse than others, but it’s obscure varieties (Snowden, Lenape) that have the most. Russets, whites, Yukon Gold, fingerlings, etc — all the varieties you find in local grocery stores as well as farmer’s markets — will have safe flesh.

      Keep potatoes in the dark to avoid greening and sprouting. Avoid eating potato skins sans potato, bitter potatoes (that’s solanine and related compounds you’re tasting) and definitely toss green potatoes. One can cut out sprouts, but I generally toss them at that point.

      Cooking will not destroy solanine. It might reduce levels, but mostly that’s by transferring into the cooking fat.

  20. Rhys Morgan says:

    I just tried making these and they stuck to the cookie sheet so badly. Maybe my sheet was too crowded?

    • Clearly, you need to gets you sheet together.

    • Rhys:

      Yes, one reason you make them big. You can use a non-stick. One solution. A bit of sticking is OK, you can see those bits if you look closely in mine. If you use a plain cookie sheet as I do, then a sharp spatula and rapid movement with a slight downward pressure is called for. They’ll zip right off.

  21. 2 years ago I bought a Tefal Actifry. It cooks 1kg of chipped potatoes with 1 tablespoon of oil. They are absolutely the best.

    • Helen A

      Well I’ll be damned. Googled. Watched the vid. I kinda go with the old ethic of not using single purpose utensils or appliances/gadgets (i still use a fork to squeeze a lemon, a knife to smash garlic, etc.). But I have to admit: That is impressive.

  22. Peggy Holloway says:

    Since potatoes turn to glucose the minute they encounter saliva, I fail to see how eating them could work for most of us (due to insulin resistance/glucose intolerance).

  23. My wife and I use an infrared convection oven (NuWave) to air bake potatoes. I’ve done them plain with just water on them or spray on a little olive oil and they make great steak fries in 20-25 minutes.

    We also make perfect baked potatoes in the NuWave oven for 40-50 minutes.

  24. Peggy Holloway says:

    I’m skeptical. I would have blood sugar and insulin through the roof. And why are you pushing low-fat? This is very disturbing to me.

    • Peggy, this is a short term hack. I’m not “pushing” anything and anyway, this isn’t a religion. There are very specific reasons for why this needs to be low fat. It has nothing to do with fat is bad. It’s a trick. Peter-a high-fat-guy explains it. Did you read the post? Have you at least browsed the forums at MDA where huge numbers of people are loosing fat again? Have you read the comment threads at Ray Cronise’s blog where even T2 diabetics are getting BETTER blood glucose control?

      In fact, there was just such a post in comments here from a T2D to that effect.

      Let me ask you. Why EXACTLY do you find all of this “very disturbing?” Or, should I guess why?

      • Paleophil says:

        Good luck trying to explain it to committed LCers, Richard. The notion that eating *certain* carby foods can actually improve blood glucose control, insulin sensitivity and diabetes runs counter to the current popular meme in the Paleo/Primal blogosphere that all carbs are pure evil and all contribute to diabetes and is seen as heresy. And I say this as someone who as yet does not fare well when eating cooked tubers. The evidence is too overwhelming for me to ignore or dismiss. It seems to me that it’s much more likely that there’s something to it than that lots of folks are lying about their results.

  25. LeonRover says:

    Hey Rich

    A quick FYI.

    I have just now used this cooking method on parsnips – with excellent oral and lingual response.

    That is, they tasted great – no need to grate, as in method of faux-waffels (note the the typical Bruxelles’ combination of Wallon-Vlaams).

    I find that using a wok for minimal fat-coating and initial cooking to be an excellent extra twist to roasting most root vegetables.

    Slainte

  26. Here’s an interesting way to dress up your mashed potatoes, just do this in a low fat version.

    Kimchi mashed potatoes.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/11/14/165117037/korean-american-thanksgiving-mash-up-complete-with-kimchee-mashed-potatoes?ft=3&f=111787346&sc=nl&cc=es-20121118

  27. I’m trying this, with a twist – one-two oysters per potato (so far 6-7 potatoes per day). The oysters are very low in fat (a full dozen would have about a teaspoon) and nutritionally very complementary to the potatoes. I mostly eat the potatoes nuked, plain, skin off, saving the fat allowance for my teaspoon of CLO and the oysters or a small amount of bacon or sausage in potato soup for flavor. Menopausal female, 5 days in, 6 pounds down, about 35 to go. Gotta say, the onions in the hashbrown recipe were tasty but made me very unsociable so I’ve cut that out.

  28. lou fogel says:

    So, on average, how many potatoes are you having per day?

    And when you calculated the calories, did you subtract the fiber (net carbs)?

    I’m definitely curious about people’s reporting that they’re looking significantly more than the calorie deficit would predict (but it makes no sense to me, I’ll admit).

  29. Peggy the Primal Parent says:

    I was just going through some old emails and saw this post.

    What’s the deal with potatoes? You can include anything low fat and achieve the same fat loss results.

    I discovered this inadvertently years ago when I narrowed down the foods that made me feel best. They were raw fish, white rice, and green vegetable juice. I also ate a little bit of salad, seaweed, Japanese sweet potatoes, and white potatoes (I can’t absorb fructose so I have to be picky). I dropped fat so fast I thought I was going to disappear.

    • Hey Peggy. Hope all’s well with the munchkin.

      Yea, LF works. There’s a few particular reasons owing to the nature of the potato that makes this a better hack for many, including no hunger reported by most, even on pretty restricted calories. The amino acid profile is good, too, and most veggies aren’t at all.

  30. Caiti Jayne says:

    i made this recipe for dinner! it came out perfectly. ive never been able to make fries at home before without them becoming soggy, and this was easy enough to do.

    i am doing the potato diet to lose the weight i gained after i went paleo – i was really skinny eating lots of carbs and low fat, for 7 years. had some digestion issues ie. ibs and went paleo trying to solve it, but it made it worse and i gained 20 lbs from high fat low carb. so now im doing the potato diet trying to lose that weight and go back to my old self. im going to eat a whole foods diet but i think i will go back to low fat high carb again.

  31. Old thread but it looks very much like the way I always prepare French fries at home, except that I do not use a wok for this. Here is how:

    I use a tiny sauce pan where I throw a couple of tsp of rendered duck fat and melt it on low heat just enough to have it liquid. My potato wedges were prepared already and are waiting in a salad bowl (plastic for convenience because it is lighter than glass) . I add some flavor to the melted fat (paprika powder, onion powder, whatever makes you happy) and toss it on top of the wedges. I then cover the bowl with a light plate large enough to cover it all and shake the bowl vigorously for like half a minute to a minute. When I remove the plate, all the wedges should be covered with fat. If not, I shake the bowl some more. The end result is identical and I don’t have to clean a wok :)

    Actually, I will make some tonight :)

  32. Jens

    Ask my wife. I love cleaning the wok. :) Plus, I like getting my Chinese on. Seriously, though, same end result, sounds good to me. With a little care and attention, oven fries are even better than deep fried.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Told you I'm a hit whore. …Besides, what if you don't like French Fries? [...]

  2. SpoogeReport says:

    [...] French Fry Diet for Rapid Weight and Fat Loss [...]

  3. [...] Serve it with malt vinegar, which I dash on somewhere between skimpy and liberally. You can also salt to taste. It just sends it over the top for me. It's like a plate of fish & chips, and you don't even need to do the chips. [...]

  4. [...] probably will just bake them tonight so they are all set for tomorrow, look here for more info: The French Fry Diet for Rapid Weight and Fat Loss | Free The Animal I'm not a fan really of this blog, but he has looked into it a bit, I just noticed on a JUDDD [...]

  5. […] kept me satisfied until 2:30 or so.  At which point, I baked up approximately a metric tonne of french fries (click the link for recipe and pictures!).  With some non-HFCS ketchup, that really hit the spot. […]